Death - What dies with death?

Birth - What is born with birth?

Can you provide any Sutta / Sutra references.


4 Answers 4


Death - What dies with death?

Every moment all the 5 aggregates arise and passes away. This can be viewed as momentarily death. Physical deaths (marana) is when the the 5 argerates pass away in one body and arise in another body leaving the residue of corporeal body (rupa) behind.

Clearing the Path by Ven. Ñānavīra further discusses this citations to Suttas. Some of the main citation are Mahā,nidāna Sutta and Nidāna Saṃyutta from the Tripitaka.

Also see: The Buddhist View of Death - An Interview with Bhante Gunaratana by Samaneri Sudhamma and Margot Born

Birth - What is born with birth?

Certainly, the start of life, at conception, is seen as involving the flux-of-consciousness, from a past life, entering the womb and, along with the requisite physical conditions, leading to the development of a new being in the womb:

'Were consciousness, Ananda, not to fall into the mother's womb, would mind-and-body (nama-rupa) be constituted there?' 'It would not, Lord'. 'Were consciousness, having fallen into the mother's womb, to turn aside from it, would mind-and-body come to birth in this present state?'. 'It would not, Lord.' (D. II. 62-3)

Source: The mind-body relationship in Pali Buddhism: A philosophical investigation, Peter Harvey

The quoted Sutta is: Mahā,nidāna Sutta

Can you provide any Sutta / Sutra references.

See above links. Also bibliography of Clearing the Path.

Also the following essay might be of interest: Death: An early Buddhist perspective by Piya Tan

  • 1
    This could be a (much) better answer if you would quote one or two relevant paragraphs from Clearing the Path.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 14:42
  • 1
    Re. The Buddhist View of Death where they talk about "moment-to-moment death" ... is that a modern idea of "death" (i.e. of "what death is" or of "what it is that dies at death"), or is it mentioned in a sutta?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 14:44
  • @ChrisW , As far as my understanding as a theravada Buddhist goes there is no such sutta that goes along with the "moment-to-moment death" concept that has become a very popular word. Though Lord Buddha did talked about the process of the mind and how it interact with the receptors of a body. I think this idea "moment-to-moment death" might be a misinterpretation of that. Because death is death not the death of thoughts or body cells as i see it.
    – Theravada
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 16:34
  • 1
    This is a loose translation of Utpada Vaya into english as your aggregates arise and pass away with physical death being just a special case of this where the aggregates pass away in one body and arise in another as the re births process. Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 13:46
  • 1
    @Theravada See also the answers to What does deathless mean?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 11:43

I think "death" is often described/translation as "dissolution of the aggregates".

So I suppose it's the skandhas which "die" or come to an end, are impermanent.

This reference includes,

  1. And, bhikkhus, what is death? The falling away from existence, the passing away from existence, the dissolution, the disappearance, the end of life, the passing away due to completion of the life-span, the breaking up of the Aggregates, the discarding of the body, the destruction of the life-faculty of various beings in various categories, — this, bhikkhus, is called death.

What dies or is born? What looks like death or birth is just the mind and body changing just like the mind and body are changing right now.

No-self dies , is born or changes.

There is no-self if one is having a near death experience or an out of body experience.


Conditioned (samsaric) phenomena are subject to birth and death.

It is their very nature to arise and pass away. Samsaric phenomena are compounded and conditioned. They have causes and effects and function as causes for other effects and vice versa.

Conditioned phenomena are in a constant flux. There is no stability or permanence. There is no solidity to be found anywhere. Break up and decay is bound to happen.

Actually, there is only the present moment. It arises and passes away.

One can verify that for oneself, by practicing insight meditation and thereby experience how mental and physical phenomena arise and pass away incessantly.

There is birth and death every moment. A sound, a smell, a feeling, a sight, a taste, a mental formation (e.g. the notion/concept of a body or a Self) arises and passes away constantly.

Birth - What is born with birth?

What arises must eventually pass away, due to the fact that it arose in the first place. Something that comes into existence must also fall away.

"Now, bhikkhus, do ageing and death have birth as condition or not, or how do you take it in this case?

Ageing and death have birth as condition, venerable sir."

-- MN 38: Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta, Bodhi Trans.

Death - What dies with death?

These are the the Buddhas words:

"The passing of beings out of the various orders of beings, their passing away, dissolution, disappearance, dying, completion of time, dissolution of the aggregates, laying down of the body - this is called death".

-- MN 9: Sammaditthi Sutta, Bodhi Trans.

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